Lawman’s Pathetic Scramble To Justify Stopping A Guy From Videotaping Public View Police Activity
“Failure to identify” is a Texas law enforcement specialty. Where other departments are forced to rely on nebulous charges like “interference,” “disorderly conduct,” wiretapping law violations or straight-faced discussions of law-enforcement-centric urban legend “the cellphone was a gun,” Texas officers deploy “failure to identify” when shutting down camera-wielding citizens. But the law doesn’t work the way they think it does.
After making this “error,” Stokes compounds it by claiming — in direct opposition to a great many court decisions (as well as common sense) — that it’s illegal to record police officers. This, too, fails to stick. The citizen knows the law better than Stokes does and other officers begin to realize Stokes is taking this interaction in a dangerous direction and convince him to walk away.
While I would not expect police officers to know every nuance of the many laws they enforce, I would at least expect them to remain current on the ones that are routinely abused. If they don’t know the details, the problem lies with those responsible for training them. There’s no excuse (other than simply being a bad cop) for an officer to make this many errors in the course of one interaction. Any law enforcement agency should be up-to-date on court decisions and (especially) lawsuits that target oft-disputed areas like citizens with cameras. At this point, an officer needs to be wilfully ignorant to remain this out of touch with the reality of the situation.